WASHINGTON (CNN) - Asked during his confirmation hearing Thursday whether the president has an "inherent authority" to engage in warrantless surveillance, Attorney General designate Eric Holder said the president would be "well advised" to work "within the dictates" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Holder indicated that a president's power to conduct surveillance is "at its zenith" when the president acts in concert with the intent of Congress as laid out in FISA.
He also said that the U.S. Army Field Manual would be a "good place to start" for the purpose of establishing a uniform standard for torture techniques. He indicated that he did not believe that restricting interrogations to the rules of the Field Manual would impair the ability of the government to successfully combat terrorism.
Holder noted that law enforcement tools like the Patriot Act had to be enforced in a manner consistent with the country's values and "great tradition" of supporting civil liberties.
When asked whether he would support a criminal investigation of Bush administration officials for possible violations of national security and civil
liberties laws, Holder responded that while "nobody is above the law," he also didn't "want to criminalize policy differences that may exist" between the outgoing and incoming administrations.